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Cheltenham: Off to a Flyer

By Frank Brownlow

Home-grown Cheltenham hope Hurricane Fly’s Ulster owners last night backed jockey Ruby Walsh to land glory in today’s Champion Hurdle, the opening day feature of the famous racing Festival’s centenary.

Hurricane Fly was last night joined at the head of the betting by Menorah and Peddlers Cross in what looks set to be the hottest Champion Hurdle contest in years.

All three are available at 4-1 for today’s £210,000 showpiece but Hurricane Fly’s connections — from Belfast and Crossgar — are confident back from injury Walsh, can swing things in their favour.

“Ruby’s been the top jockey at the Festival in recent years and is probably worth at least a length to Hurricane Fly,” said Lewis Creighton, representing the connections.

Ulster’s Gold Cup hopes took a knock with an injury to jockey Dougie Costello in a fall at Stratford yesterday.

Trainer Neil Mulholland, originally from Glenavy, runs Midnight Chase in the Festival feature on Friday, with Costello — now ruled out of the Festival — booked for the ride. “I’m gutted for Dougie,” said Mulholland last night.

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